Last January we had a week and a half precruise time in Peru.
Peru was really the highlight of the entire 6 week holiday. We enjoyed sunny days throughout our visit, in spite of it being low season. It was hot in Lima, around 28c but cooler in Ariquipa, Cusco and very chilly in Lake Titicaca -- elevation 4 000 m. Ariguipa is a small city worth a couple of days to help get used to the elevation. We took the Andean Explorer between Cusco and Lake Titicaca -- much as I imagined the Orient Express would be -- a full day of elegant dining, fashion shows, cultural performances and great fun. It's just a 350 km journey but took 8 hours. Buses are far cheaper and faster but nothing compares with our elegant journey.
Machu Pichu was a wonder. We left chilly Cusco in early morning where hail was threatened and arrived in Machu Pichu to bright sunshine and 30+c. We huffed and puffed to the top.
We had prearranged tours and guides, but were on our own for several half days in each place we visited. My husband's halting Spanish saw us through. We were impressed with the friendliness of the people. Each driver and guide greeted us with, "Thank you for visiting my country."
We'd brought along elevation sickness prescriptions and drank gallons of coca tea -- offered free in all hotel lobbies. And still we huffed and puffed. We're 65ish and reasonably fit.
From Peru we flew to Chile for a few days touring before boarding the a Celebrity ship.
We had about a week and a half post cruise time in Argentina and did Iguazu Falls from both the Brazil and Argentina sides -- as Bill Clinton said, "Poor Niagara." Again we were more or less on our own with prearranged tours and pickups.
I cannot say enough positive things about our trip to SA. We did as much as we could as on our budget and at our age we know we'll never get back.